Sales Insight: Procurement Perspective - Acumen FM

It’s not uncommon for sales professionals to believe that they’ve got all the answers. The reality, however, can often be a very different story...

In the 2nd installment of our procurement perspective series, we’re continuing where we left off and this week, it's the turn of FM stalwart Bernard Crouch, Managing Director of Acumen FM.

The gatekeepers are finally lifting the lid on the do’s and don’ts of business development.

Sales leaders, listen up: class is in session…

Bernard Crouch, Managing Director, Acumen FM

Can you give us a brief insight into your background and what inspired you to focus your attention on the FM industry?

I originally trained to be a Hotel Manager and have always had a keen interest in the both the Leisure industry and the built environment.

I enjoy working with a wide range of people in support services and dealing with the many varied challenges that constantly arise when dealing with the built environment.

Super - so, straight to it...

What are the most common mistakes suppliers make either inside/outside the tender process?

There are a number of common mistakes.

Complacency on behalf of incumbents who have convinced themselves they are doing a better job than they really are. More than once I have been in a situation where the incumbent has been failing badly, but comes to the re-tender process convinced that they’ll be retaining the business.

Not listening to what the client or consultant says. If I ask for someone to contact me every six weeks between now and when I start the tender process, then I don’t want a weekly call or alternatively total silence either!

What are the most annoying/pointless trends that keeps finding their way into proposals?

Not a pointless trend but, when asking for ‘Innovative ideas’ describing something that has been an industry standard for several years does not count as ‘Innovation’.

Worst sales habit: anything that really gets your back up?

Death by Power-point. My definition of this is when a proposal is supported with a power-point presentation which is text heavy and the person doing the presentation reads the text out loud verbatim. I have also had this happen with a ‘hard copy only’ presentation.

“Sellers: Stop doing this…”

"Here’s one I prepared earlier." Like a broken record some sellers have a habit of either submitting a document clearly written for a previous prospect/client (sometimes with the name of their building still left in! It’s easy enough to do a ‘Find / Replace’!

Similarly the presentation, and please - try not to turn up late - as the day has probably been planned with a number of presentations!

One of the presentation team never speaks. Three people turn up, one of them says their name and job role and then has no part in the presentation and doesn’t volunteer to answer any questions. Why did they attend? what was the point? Worse still, they were clearly bored and kept on yawning.

So, ensure that everyone coming to the meeting has a role to play and is tasked with answering at least one question.

Site visits: what are the do’s and don’ts?

Do’s, ask sensible questions, don’t ask to see inside every single cupboard/room etc. unless you have a good reason to.

Read the documents you have been sent. There is nothing more annoying than everyone on the walk-round being familiar with the contents of the document and then just one sales person/bidder continually asking "is this included"..."Are we expected to do that, what about so & so..."

What’s the No.1 way a supplier can positively set themselves aside from the crowd?

Understand and empathise with the client and follow what has been suggested (e.g. if it the presentation invite says bring a contract manager, then that’s who we’d expect to see at the meeting.

Which trends/innovations have got you the most excited?

Well thought out software solutions that save time and money.

What’s your top tip for producing the perfect, procurement-centric proposal?

Read the bid request document thoroughly and respond to it exactly as requested. Whenever possible put yourself in the client’s position and describe benefits rather than features.

What are the main changes, challenges or disruptions you expect to witness within your industry over the next 5 years?

Increasing use of technology will affect how services are delivered, whether IOT, AI or robotics.

Whilst potentially this should lead to improved service delivery and reduced costs, we need to ensure that this does not lead to reduced customer service with 'face to face' interactions replaced with 'Alexa/Siri'.

How do you see the buying process evolve over the next 5 years? What major changes do you expect to see?

I would expect to see more online processes and hopefully an end to clients requesting three or more hard copies of everything.

We may also see fewer exhaustive site visits with alternatives such as VR enabling bidders to view sites on a multi-site bid.

Thanks for taking the time to shed some invaluable insight! Where can we find out more about you and your business?

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